Ann Avery, spokeswoman for State Farm in Iowa, says the company just wrapped up its 6th annual survey on cell phone use by motorists.
“There has been a steady reduction in the number of drivers talking on a hand-held cell phone, which is great,” Avery says, “and the number of people who report texting while driving has remained stable over six years.”
If you didn’t have a smart phone a few years ago, the odds are, you have one now. “In 2011, 52% of drivers reported owning a smart phone,” Avery says. “By 2014, that number has grown to 80%. We see the greatest increases in smart phone ownership to be among adults age 40 and older.”
While devices like iPhones and Androids put a wealth of information, navigation and convenience at our fingertips, Avery says there’s also a big problem with them. “The interesting things about smart phones is, those do create new distractions,” Avery says. “There’s a significant increase over six years in drivers who use their phones for such things as accessing the internet, reading email, responding to email, reading social media.”
The survey found road conditions have a lot to do with whether drivers have one hand on the wheel and the other on the phone. “There are some things that drivers say make them more likely to use their cell phones, such as stopping at a red light or being on an open highway,” Avery says. “On the other hand, drivers say there are some circumstances under which they’re less likely to use their cell phones, such as weather conditions, it’s dark outside, it’s foggy, snowy, icy, they’re in heavy traffic or in a school zone.”
Only nine states prohibit all drivers from using hand-held phones while driving, and Iowa is not one of the nine. Iowa is among 35 states that prohibit texting while driving. A spokeswoman for the Iowa Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau says a cell phone ban for motorists would greatly improve driving conditions on highways and interstates.